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  1. #21
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    True, they astound and fascinate me. You've given me some new ideas for
    searching the Manchester side and how they first came to Orpington. I believe there were some large estates in the area, and perhaps they did seek work as parlour maids etc. or as you say moved with their employers. Thank you.

    I recently saw a picture of one of the slum courts in Bermondsey c1896 where all the residents were being evicted. It's a truely dreadful place. My great grandmother might well have lived somewhere very much like this.


    From my point of view my mother's paternal family have been easier to trace back to around 1820 to the present day as they stayed in Newington/Peckham for nearly 200 years, but after finding a Hollylee 1600s in Enfield I believe they came from another area. Must have be very rural then. So I think I'm in for more surprises.

  2. #22
    Jan1954
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    My great grandfather was an Ag Lab in Essex, and one of the ringleaders of the Essex Agricultural Labourer's Strike of 1914. He ended up in Saffron Walden jail for a few days until the local vicar spoke up for him and the other 6 who'd been imprisoned.

    His son, my great uncle Albert, was also an Ag Lab. Albert really embraced modern technology, ploughing fields by using 2 traction engines, one either side of the field, that pulled the plough with him sitting on it across the field between them. However, this cut down on the number of labourers needed - as well as horses - and he was somewhat ostracized. In the pub, they used to have a communal tankard that the labourers shared at the end of the day. He was always missed out when it was passed round...

    A great read is Reuben's Corner by Spike Mays. I think it's out of print now, but copies do pop up from time to time on a certain internet shopping site. It will certainly provide a flavour of the life of the Ag Lab.

    Forgot: the "sister book" is called Five Miles from Bunkum (Bunkum being the Ashdon name for Saffron Walden)
    Last edited by Guest; 04-07-2009 at 6:39 PM. Reason: Forgot something

  3. #23
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    Thank you for the book recommendations they look very interesting. I found them listed on a couple of websites.
    I tried to find some information about the strike but haven't have much luck yet.

    Your great uncle was obviously a forward thinking man and his new ideas frightened the other labourers into thinking they would loose their jobs. A shame though, that he missed out when the tankard was passed around.
    What happened to him?

    Amongst my families I would say that at least 60% of them were ag labs one being 8 years old and a few ended up in the workhouse. Hard times.

    I started researching my families a few months ago and soon came to realise that there's a lot more to it than just collecting names and dates. I'm only just reaching parish record stage because I'm trying to build a picture of how they lived and worked and, I suppose, trying to put personalities to some of them. So my tree is very wide and short. Fascinating stuff though.

    Thanks again

  4. #24
    Jan1954
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    Hi Thisby,

    Great Uncle Albert (who lived at the bottom of the garden - but that's another story...) I can just remember. He died sometime in the 1950s/early 60s - yet to confirm (another Smith!) - married rather late in life to a young lady whose mother was the same age as he. A village scandal, I can tell you!

    "In the spring and summer of 1914, the villages of Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire borders were in a ferment of discontent. Labourers were being dismissed from their farm employment simply because they wished to join a Trade Union and, when demands for a pay rise of sixpence a week were turned down, the Agricultural Strike began. Although a few national figures lent their support and while there were a few ugly incidents of assault or rick-burning, this is largely the story of humble men finally sticking up for what they saw as their rights."

    Quote is from the back of a little 57-page book called "The Empty Fields - the Agricultural Strike of 1914" by Roy Brazier. Published by Ian henry Publications Ltd.

    If you can lay your hands on a copy of this, it will certainly give you a flavour of the farm labourer's life back then.

    Jan

  5. #25
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    Thank you both for the book information, it sounds very interesting, I'll take a look.

    Great uncle Albert seems like quite a character. Your mention of his living in the garden reminded me of a friend of ours who years ago had a disagreement with his parents and pitched a tent in the front garden in full view of passers by.
    Needless to say he was back in the house within two days.

    Thanks
    Thisby

  6. #26
    Jan1954
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    Thisby - I'll explain about Albert...

    When Great Uncle Albert was in his 60s, and widowed, he came to stay with my grandparents for a while. However, he didn't get on with my grandma - his sister.

    So, each day after breakfast, he would toddle off down to the bottom of the garden to a shed and stay there all day, apart from meals.

    I was 3 or 4 at the time and remember creeping down the garden to peer in the shed. Apart from a large pile of magazines, he had a camp bed and a primus stove. Therefore, this young intrepid explorer came to the conclusion that it was in the shed that he lived!

    Henceforth, he was always known as Uncle-Albert-who-lived-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden!

  7. #27
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    What a character - I think we all need a great uncle Albert

  8. #28
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    Hi all
    My Family came from a village in Norfolk called Attlebridge and they were all Ag/Lab, but about the time of the Irish Potatoe famine they came south. i beleive that the Irish labourers would have worked for less money so put my family out of work and maybe out of home too. the family name is Secker

  9. #29
    Geoffers
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeanniet View Post
    My Family came from a village in Norfolk called Attlebridge and they were all Ag/Lab, but about the time of the Irish Potatoe famine they came south. i beleive that the Irish labourers would have worked for less money so put my family out of work and maybe out of home too. the family name is Secker
    For all Norfolk dumplings a very good book to get your hands on is:

    'Unquiet Country - Voices of the Rural Poor 1820-1880'
    by Robert LEE
    ISBN 1-905119-03-8
    Windgather Press

  10. #30
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    Default Great Uncle Albert, Ashdon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan1954 View Post
    My great grandfather was an Ag Lab in Essex, and one of the ringleaders of the Essex Agricultural Labourer's Strike of 1914. He ended up in Saffron Walden jail for a few days until the local vicar spoke up for him and the other 6 who'd been imprisoned.

    His son, my great uncle Albert, was also an Ag Lab. Albert really embraced modern technology, ploughing fields by using 2 traction engines, one either side of the field, that pulled the plough with him sitting on it across the field between them. However, this cut down on the number of labourers needed - as well as horses - and he was somewhat ostracized. In the pub, they used to have a communal tankard that the labourers shared at the end of the day. He was always missed out when it was passed round...

    A great read is Reuben's Corner by Spike Mays. I think it's out of print now, but copies do pop up from time to time on a certain internet shopping site. It will certainly provide a flavour of the life of the Ag Lab.

    Forgot: the "sister book" is called Five Miles from Bunkum (Bunkum being the Ashdon name for Saffron Walden)
    I think we might share the same Great Uncle Albert? My father Walter John Smith was nephew to Great Uncle Albert who orginated in Ashdon, Essex. My father dealt with Uncle Albert in his final years and seems to have been generally recognised as the only person who could 'handle' the old man. One of my father's duties was to drive Uncle Albert, who then lived in Burwell, to visit his friend Walter Marsh in Ashdon. They met at the Bonnet Inn a pub in Ashdon and spoke of old times when they met the police with pitch forks etc. during the Ashdon Strike of 1914. Albert was a traction engine man and worked for a firm I think that was called Pamplins who did 'plant hire' threshing tackle etc. in the surrounding area. I have a photgraph of Albert with a traction engine in the background. I am interested in your comments on Albert's father who was involved in the dispute in 1914. I have researched a little and discovered that my Great Grandfather John Smith was known as 'toe-rag' Smith because he once cut his foot while using a sickle and cut his shirt tail off to bind his wound. He died as a result of an accident with a pony & trap. The Smith's lived at Steventon End where the census shows a great many Smith's living close by probably all related in some way. I would welcome any further details you might be able to offer regarding the Smith family, the 1914 Dispute at Ashdon and the role if any that the Smith's played in those events. Incidentally Great Uncle Albert is buried in Burwell Graveyard.

    Regards Aubrey Smith

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